By all indications, Donald Trump is not working today, hasn’t worked since the election, in fact. No word on what he is doing about the new surge of coronavirus cases, meetings with congressional leaders or cabinet heads, nothing. The media, thankfully, is not covering his every word and move — they should have learned to ignore him long ago. The silence is, as they say, golden. On the other hand …
Joe Biden is already hard at work. This morning he announced the members of his coronavirus task force, a group made up entirely of doctors and health experts, signaling his intent to seek a science-based approach to bring the raging pandemic under control.
Biden’s task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.” – President-elect Joe Biden
Note the bi-partisan composition of the group’s leadership. The 13-member task force also includes former Trump administration officials, including Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who, after being demoted, spoke out against the administration’s approach to the pandemic. Luciana Borio, director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council until 2019, is also on the panel.
The group includes several other prominent doctors:
- Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School who is a prolific author.
- Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
- Eric Goosby, global AIDS coordinator under President Barack Obama and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.
- Celine R. Gounder, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.
- Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy focused on health issues.
- Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to global health issues.
- Robert Rodriguez, professor of emergency medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine.
Biden plans to call Republican and Democratic governors to ask for their help in developing a consistent message from federal and state leaders and will urge governors to adopt statewide mask mandates and to provide clear public health guidance to their constituents, including about social distancing and limiting large gatherings.
Joe Biden is actually going to DO something to try to help save lives! What a novel thing for a president to do, eh?
Oh wait … I was wrong that Trump isn’t doing anything today. Breaking news just in: Trump has fired Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Why? Presumably because back in June, Esper disagreed with Trump’s plan to use active-duty military troops to quell Black Lives Matter protests in cities. My best guess is that there will be more firings for petty, personal reasons … he has said more than once that he planned to fire both FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after the election. He can’t actually fire Dr. Fauci, for only the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has that ability.
But back to Joe Biden, who is constructing rather than destructing, building rather than tearing down …
Biden and his team have planned a weeklong focus on health care, and Mr. Biden is expected to announce some key White House positions, including his chief of staff. No doubt he and his transition team are also working on his cabinet picks, which they say will be announced later this month.
In other news, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, is the latest in Trump’s administration to fall prey to the coronavirus, after attending a pseudo-victory party at the White House last Tuesday night. It’s interesting to note that Carson was a well-respected neurosurgeon in his previous career, before leaving to enter politics on Trump’s coattails, and yet he eschews mask-wearing and other precautions such as avoiding large crowds. While I don’t wish the man any harm and do hope he makes a full recovery, I have to say he brought this one on himself. There were some 200 people at that gathering … how many more of those, I wonder, will test positive this week?